So What Is Music Therapy?

Ah…the million dollar question that secretly every music therapist dreads being asked. The challenge is that music therapy can be used in so many different ways, and with so many different types of clients it is tricky to provide an easy to digest definition that is relevant for every potential client and clinical setting. Here is a definition we feel represents the music therapy services we provide.

Music therapy is a clinical intervention with foundations in psychology. This means that it is more than just putting on your favourite CD, or blasting the music while driving down the highway, or attending a live performance (but don’t get me wrong, these are all ‘therapeutic’ in their own way). Music therapy is an individualized, interactive, and goal driven intervention. For some of our clients goals are focused on developmental areas such as communication or social skills, physical coordination, or sensory integration. For other clients, the goals are more closely related to psychotherapy and focus on improving mental health and emotional wellbeing.

For your reference, I’ve included a clinical definition here:

Music therapy is the skillful use of music and musical elements by an accredited music therapist to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Music has nonverbal, creative, structural, and emotional qualities. These are used in the therapeutic relationship to facilitate contact, interaction, self-awareness, learning, self- expression, communication, and personal development. CAMT, 1994

Music is an outburst of the soul.
~ Frederick Delius

Who is a Music Therapist?

Music therapists are accomplished musicians who have a university degree in music therapy and have completed a clinical internship. They are trained to use music as a tool to positively impact a client’s wellbeing. Music therapists are accredited (MTA or MT-BC) with the Canadian Association for Music Therapy.  Music therapists may choose to become Certified Neurologic Music Therapists (NMT) and those working in Ontario have the option of becoming Registered Psychotherapists (RP) with the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.

How Does Music Therapy Benefit?

Music therapy is so versatile that its benefits can be limitless. We offer services that support a client’s mental health and/or developmental needs. Psychotherapy based services allow clients to explore and express their emotions through a non-verbal medium.  Developmental based services focus on improving a clients cognitive, academic, social and/or emotional skills.

Where words fail, music speaks.
~ Hans Christian Andersen